A Letter From Maryland

17. April, 2009 General No comments

Indonesia’s missing essential ingredient

Tasa Nugraza Barley,  Maryland, US

I believe every relationship requires at least three elements in order to succeed. Those three elements are love, trust, and communication.

Imagine if one of these elements is missing from a relationship, say, between a husband and a wife. They may have love and trust but without enough communication their future will be in jeopardy because they can’t express their feelings properly.

And the presence of love and trust is even more crucial. Without love, how could you give the best of yourself to someone or something? And without trust, love is useless and tasteless.

Now, as citizens of this beautiful country, Indonesia, it may sound weird to say we also need these three elements in order to make things better here. Nonetheless I think we do, and it’s something the government should acknowledge if they want its people, especially the young ones, to achieve greater things in life.

I believe we all do have a love for this country. We love Indonesia, don’t we? As our President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono loves his Javanese heritage, we all love where we’re from. I’m proud, for example, of my origin which combines four different cultures; of Java, Sunda, West Sumatra and Riau.

Batak people are also proud of their culture and traditions, wherever they might be. Without hesitation they announce to others where they’re from, and give you a big smile if you say, “Horas!” Even my Chinese Indonesian friends are proud of how Indonesian they are.

Some may complain, however, saying the level of love for our country is decreasing — especially among the younger generation. But it’s a fact that young Indonesians in Java and other provinces still speak their local languages proudly. And when Malaysia “insulted” us by claiming that batik and Rasa Sayange were theirs, we stood together bravely and proudly as one nation. It’s good news batik is still fashionable among women young and old. So, I believe the love is still there.

Second, it’s such a relief to be able to say we have the best track record in Southeast Asia as far as freedom of speech. Since the ’98 tragedy, Indonesians have been enjoying this privilege which no other people in Southeast Asia can enjoy to the same degree. We can say anything about anything without being afraid the government will arrest us. We can easily criticize our government in newspapers, magazines or TV shows.

The fact is, Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the world. Our system of democracy may not be perfect, but everyone should agree that creating a good democratic system takes time. The United States needed more than 200 years to develop the democratic system now in use there. We’re still learning, and I think we’re progressing quite well.

We have the love and we communicate, but what we don’t have is trust. We don’t trust our government. We don’t trust our members of parliament. We don’t trust our police. We don’t trust our judges or prosecutors. We don’t even trust other people. We don’t trust the whole system. We believe all government officials are corrupt. When we see a big house owned by a pejabat (public official), we say without hesitation, “No wonder you have a nice house”.

What our officials should understand is that without trust, we don’t contribute. Without trust we don’t act effectively as part of a society. How can the government expect us to be good citizens when we don’t believe they do good things for us?

How can the government expect us not to corrupt when we all believe they corrupt and use other people’s money for their own pleasure?

Without a doubt, gaining public trust should be the number one priority for the current government and any other politicians wanting to win people’s hearts in the 2009 election: Because we are tired of broken promises.

Gaining public trust is essential because there’s a limit to everything. If our officials can’t figure out how to make us believe, I fear, the love will all be gone and we won’t want to talk anymore. Let’s avoid that from happening.

From the Jakarta Post

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